Trip Prep Specialist
Ana MatijasWhere do you call home and what were you doing before Backroads?
Before I worked for Backroads I was a gemologist (the study of precious stones) and went to school at FIT in Midtown for jewelry fabrication and silversmithing while being a bike courier at night for extra cash. I then moved to Chicago and continued to work in the sales of diamonds and semiprecious stones for retail buyers before applying for a job here.
What about the TPS position interested you?
Last year, I really had a look at what I wanted out of a career along with who I was and what wanted to accomplish. I compiled a list of the top things and what I wrote down was travel, growth, community and bikes. When I compared the TPS role with the Trip Leader position, I was 100% sure this is how I wanted to start my journey - a total hands on role where I would get to see how everything worked from the inside out while being based in a region for months at a time and being a part of the bigger picture. After a lot of research, I decided to apply to work for Backroads - I felt I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Where did you work as a TPS this season?
Salt Lake City, France, Italy, Ireland, Croatia, Czech Republic and Florida.
What were the overall highlights of the job/lifestyle?
The best part was that you’re always around 10 of your best friends! You get to work and live with people who are just like you… explorers, artist, bike mechanics, and so much more. It’s a beautiful thing to start your work day with coworkers who are excited and ready to take on any task. Another highlight is the travel because you get to see the world from a totally different perspective than if you were to see a place for a short stint. As a TPS you get to live in these communities for an extended stay which means you’ll get to see things a tourist WILL NEVER SEE or experience. Last, you will see change in yourself in ways that no other job will give you the opportunity for.
What was your best memory from your summer working for a travel company?
On a day off in Ireland, I decided to hike along the coast of the bay and found a herd of horses that were eating grass near the ocean. When I approached them, they weren’t afraid of me, even when I touched them, so I spent my afternoon walking alongside the horses, beneath the mountains and alongside the ocean. I felt so connected to nature and my spirit, and frankly, words can’t describe how I felt.
What were some of the challenges of the job/lifestyle?
Being away from my dog was probably is the most challenging part. If you have a loved one or a pet, it’s always difficult to navigate through the first few weeks of work but you will eventually get into rhythm and adjust. Being around other field staff, like TPSs and Trip Leaders helps a lot too. My secret to not getting home sick was to get out of the house and to go explore the region with my new friends! Never say no to an invitation to bike, hike or swim.
Tell us about TPS training and the skills you learned as a TPS in the field!
I came to TPS Training with basic bike skills by spending time going into a local bike shop and working for free changing tires and fixing cables. All this got me prepared for training which gives you an outline of what work in the field will look like. At training, be prepared to have the most amazing time - RELAX and take a deep breath when going through the process. Training isn’t designed to stress you out, you are there to LEARN the process, not perfect it. Once you get to your region you will work with other TPS’s and field staff who will help you answer questions. I also spent 2 weeks in France building our E-Bikes and Titanium bikes from the ground up - this was the most vital part of my bike education. I was working with the most educated bike techs in the world that were able to teach me new things and give me lots of pro-tips.
What do you plan on doing next season?
Right now, I’ll be helping manage our operations for our Florida region as a TPS and Operations Expert by getting it ready for the arrival of all field staff, vans, trailers, bikes, and equipment for the winter season. Backroads is all about promoting from within and the delivery of empowerment - you will find endless opportunities to grow in the company, and it is all within reach. Next year I hope to be working in Ireland as a TPS or an OpX.
Do you have any insight or advice for anyone interested in applying for this position?
That feeling in your chest is normal, trust it. This job is the most rewarding job I have ever had, and it might take you a moment to adjust to all the kindness and hugs if you come from a big city or a job where you were under appreciated.
Overall experience working for a company like Backroads? What’s it like?
Amazing. Everything is designed to set everyone up for the success - you have support all the way through. Working for Backroads is like being reborn, I felt I was in a cycle of cooperate abuse, working insane hours, one-week paid vacation a year, applying for higher positions and getting knocked down. From the moment I walked into the Berkeley offices for my final interview I knew I was home for the first time and that I had an opportunity to foster a healthy future. In Backroads you are treated as an equal by all, your feedback is encouraged, and insight is valued. It’s truly a privilege to be a part of Backroads community.